Click here to read the winning essays

More than 50 women submitted essays

in response to the following questions:


  1. the quality of looking and behaving in ways conventionally thought to be appropriate for a woman or girl
  2. women as a group (dated)
  3. a manner or feature commonly attributed to women
  4. the qualities, actions, or types of behavior in a man or boy that are conventionally associated with women or girls

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What is femininity? What experiences of culture, body, biology, roles, behavior, language, work, spirit have defined or made you question ideas of femininity? We invite women and girls of all ages and experiences to take on the subject of femininity in a personal essay; be playful, inventive, unconventional or straightforward, but whatever approach you take, base your essay on personal experience.

Alison Larkin, author of the best-selling novel The English American, selected three winning essays.

And the winners are…

Hilda Banks Shapiro, “Untitled”

Sheela Clary, “Sori Tru”

Suzanne Fowle, “Mothering by Moonlight”

Warm congratulations to the winners and everyone who submitted essays!

The winning essays will be read at the Festival Gala Finale on March 31, 3-5 p.m. at The Mount, the summer home of the Berkshires’ most famous woman writer, Edith Wharton.

All are welcome to attend this event, which will be hosted by Michelle Gillett, Nina Ryan and Alison Larkin.

This is a free, first-come first-served event, with a reception to follow.

Looking forward seeing you there!


The audio book of Alison Larkin’s bestselling novel, The English American, narrated by Alison, joins a Nobel Laureate, President Obama and E.B. White on‘s list of best author narrations of all time! The audio book is available for immediate download by clicking going to